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Teaching Students with ADHD: On Focus and Performance

written by: Mayflor Markusic•edited by: Laurie Patsalides•updated: 2/1/2013

Teaching students with ADHD in the mainstream classroom is a multifaceted challenge. Therefore, the approach in helping the student succeed must also be multifaceted. What should you focus on as a teacher?

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    When ADHD, or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, is diagnosed early, a child will be provided with medications and other interventions so that he can reduce or cope with the symptoms. With success in medications and after evaluations made by professionals working for the child, the child will then be able to enter the mainstream classroom. The teacher of such a classroom recognizes that there is one crucial accomplishment that the ADHD-diagnosed student – an increase in focus.

    Increasing Focus: Three Facets

    The increase of the special student’s focus is the complete negation of the ADHD’s primary symptom, which is the lack of attention. This is a tall order on the part of the teacher. Fortunately, the increase of the student’s focus need not be on all aspects of his life. The teacher needs only to increase the student’s focus on the task at hand. With increased focus, the student will consequently improve his overall academic performance.

    Cooperation

    The first facet is aptly called cooperation. The teacher must work cooperatively with all the professionals that are involved with the child, namely the psychologists, clinicians, and physicians. For example, it is known to physicians that the symptom-inhibition effect of ADHD medication lasts only for a few hours. The teacher can consult with physician to approximate the time when the ADHD medication is working at its best, which might be a couple of hours after taking the medicine. Within that couple of hours, the teacher can make the student complete the tasks that need the greatest focus.

    Technology-Utilization

    The second facet is technology-utilization. The benefits of technology, specifically those of computers, are not limited to tech-geeks or people who are computer savvy. Computers can be utilized to maintain a high-level of focus. Computer games with artistic visual effects, and interactive programs can keep the attention span of most students. At the same time, computers can be utilized to provide immediate feedback for the ADHD student.

    Change of Least Resistance

    This leads us to the third facet. All individuals are resistant to change. Change detaches a person from his comfort level. From the point of view of a student with ADHD, change is distressing. This is why teachers should establish routines that are easy to follow. The teacher must ensure that there are no surprises. The student must be informed, several times if need be, of any changes in the classroom before they are made.

    This multi-faceted approach should help teachers when dealing with ADHD in the mainstream classroom. Do you have any additional advice to share?